Busting the pregnancy myth that you are “eating for two”.

When you’re pregnant, what you eat and drink is the main source of nourishment for your baby. In fact, the link between what you consume and the health of your baby is much stronger than once thought.

The amount of food you need during pregnancy and while breastfeeding depends on a number of things including your body mass index, or BMI, before pregnancy, the rate at which you gain weight, your age and appetite. There is often significant confusion surrounding the amount of extra food intake needed, this confusion can be linked to conflicting media reporting, the influence of earlier generations (aka our mums, mother-in-law’s) on our decision making during this time, as well as the insatiable hunger that can be experienced as a result of the hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy.

The extra food you eat shouldn’t just be empty calories, even though the temptation to fill the extra calorie requirement with treats may be great, especially if you are tired. What you eat needs to provide the nutrients your growing baby requires and the nutrients you need to maintain your health during pregnancy and potentially more crucially, in the time following birth and bringing baby home.

So, based on the assumption that you already have a wonderfully balanced, nourishing dietary pattern in place, your requirements for additional food intake during pregnancy and when breast feeding are as follows:

Pre and Post Natal Period Additional Energy Intake Food Equivalency
1st Trimester No additional food / energy requirement* No additional food
2nd Trimester 340 extra calories per day* A slice of lightly buttered toast + 2 boiled eggs + 100g of full fat yoghurt
3rd Trimester 450 extra calories per day* A slice of lightly buttered toast + 2 boiled eggs + 100g full fat yoghurt + a medium sized apple
Breast Feeding 500 extra calories per day* A slice of lightly buttered toast + 2 boiled eggs + 100g full fat yoghurt + a medium apple + 10 almonds

As you can see, when the requirement of the average 70kg female is approximately 2,000 calories of food intake per day and at its highest requirement your body requires only an extra 500 calories of nutrient dense food to nourish and grow a baby, you are not eating for two – fortunately or unfortunately depending on how your appetite is impacted by pregnancy.

I hope this information helps you in your pregnancy and post-natal journey. It is amazing what the female body achieves through pregnancy and during the initial 1-2 years of motherhood. Do your best to nourish your body well so it can do the big job it has to do as best it can.

My next post for Yoganic will explain the link between pregnancy hormones and appetite.

If you have any queries regarding this information, please don’t hesitate to contact me via [email protected] or 041 9358 465.

*These figures are estimates only and are based on population research associated with individuals who commenced pregnancy within the healthy BMI range.

Thankyou to Nereda Merrin from The Balanced Body for this post.